C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Fire safety norms
MC talk of fire just hot air
Fire department of the civic body has yet to set things right in its own backyard
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

An expired fire extinguisher at the tube well of the MC at Dadu Majra Colony, Chandigarh. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, June 23
The fire department of the Municipal Corporation (MC), which gives sermons to others to follow fire safety norms, has yet to implement them on its own premises. Not even a single MC building located in the city has executed fire safety norms on its premises and the fire department has done nothing about it.

Ironically, the MC chief fire officer, Rajiv Gupta, recently held a meeting with bank officials and hospital authorities to warn them to implement fire safety norms.

The MC building in Sector 17 is a classic example, where a temporary cabin has been constructed in the corridor on the top floor of the building. As per fire safety norms, the corridors of all buildings should have a clear passage and open staircase connecting all floors and details of exit points. The corridors of the MC building in Sector 17 are blocked with racks and almirahs containing old records.

Also, electricity wires should be fixed properly as per rules since these are a major cause of fire due to short circuit. But in the MC building, the wires are hanging in the absence of proper fitting. Old broken furniture and records of the corporation have been dumped in the basement where seating arrangements have also been made for the employees of two divisions.

Similar is the situation at the other branch offices of the MC where scraps and broken furniture are placed in corridors or under stairs.

During a visit to the tube well stations in Maloya, it was found that fire extinguishers installed in the building bore the expiry date of November 2011. An employee at the station said for the past six months, no official of the fire department had turned up to check the extinguishers. BJP councillor Satinder Singh had also taken up the matter in the recent House meeting, but no action has been taken yet.

Sailing in the same boat are the community centres. During a visit to the Sector 40 centre, it was found that no fire extinguisher had been installed on the premises.

No lesson learnt: The MC has failed to get into action mode despite several recent incidents of fire. It has not checked its buildings for fire extinguishers in spite of the recent blaze at UCO Bank in Sector 17 where fire hydrants failed to function at the time of need.



Sweat & sulk — the city mood sinks to new low
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Twentynine-year-old newlywed Poonam Chauhan has to rush home from office every day to cook dinner before power cut is imposed at night. A resident of Sector 42, Poonam says she has a joint family, but cooking dinner is her duty. Making chappatis for eight family members in the absence of power is very difficult, she says, adding that she cooks in the evening, but serves dinner in candlelight at night.

Acute power cuts have forced residents to change their daily schedule. Eighty-year-old Jeevni Devi Garg of Sector 44 says three days ago when there was a six-hour power cut in their sector at night, she had fallen in the bathroom because of the darkness. She is finding it very difficult to walk now.

Shiv Singh of Sector 38 says that for the last two nights, her four-year-old daughter was unable to sleep due to the long cut. In the absence of an inverter, the entire family finds it very difficult to get some sleep.

Pankaj Mahajan, a resident of Sector 20, who had shifted from Mohali to Chandigarh two years ago due to the better power situation and other facilities in the UT. But because of the long cuts, they are considering going back to Mohali.

“If the power situation is the same in Chandigarh as Mohali, why pay higher rent in the city,” he remarks.

No response to complaints

The complaint centre number provided by the UT electricity department is of no use. Residents get no response when they dial the numbers to know the reason for power shutdown in their respective areas. The central number 0172-4639999 also elicits no response, especially at night.

No grid in southern sectors

The absence of a 220KV grid at the southern end is in contrast to northern sectors, where the authorities had planned a separate 220KV grid in the mid-90s. It was commissioned in 2005 and is being managed by the UT power department. The grid is located in Kishangarh and supplies 47 per cent of the power consumed in the city. For southern sectors, the department has not even mooted a proposal for a dedicated 220KV grid substation. The department is drawing power from the SAS Nagar 220KV grid substation, which is being controlled and maintained by Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL).



Doors shut for hundreds of ex-addicts
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Punjab is facing a major challenge in rehabilitating hundreds of drug addicts as there is no scheme to provide them with employment after they undergo detoxification, said representatives of the Punjab State AIDS Control Society, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres and NGOs implementing targeted interventions (TIs) for injecting drug user (IDUs) during a workshop here today.

The workshop, organised by the Society for Promotion for Youth and Masses (SPYM) to commemorate International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, focused on shifting an IDU to oral substitute therapy to discourage the spread of HIV.

Participants disclosed that many IDUs in Punjab had been brought under the oral substitute therapy, resulting in a sharp decline in HIV cases. But the reformed addicts as well as officials involved in bringing them into the mainstream, are finding the going tough in the absence of any employment scheme to assist their rehabilitation.

As per a survey report released in 2008, the state had nearly 14,000 IDUs, out of which, 26 per cent were HIV positive cases. Following this, the Punjab State AIDS Control Society initiated 12 oral substitution therapy centres in government hospitals at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana, Tarn Taran, Moga, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Ferozepur, Ropar (Morinda), Kapurthala and Bathinda. This helped in decreasing the number of HIV positive cases from 26 per cent to 21 per cent.

“We got 800 IDUs registered at our centre in Ludhiana,” said Dr Inderjit Singh, medical superintendent of an acupuncture hospital.

"All of them were monitored for two years and provided with new syringes for injecting drug before many of them were brought under the oral therapy," he said. A majority of addicts had been disowned by their families and were involved in petty crimes, he said. But most addicts under oral therapy had returned to normalcy and wanted to eke out their own living.

The additional director of Punjab State AIDS Control Society, Dr NM Sharma, said such reports were being received from some centres. "However, the number of such patients is very small as of now and the problem can be tackled at the local level by involving big industrial houses. A policy will be a requirement when the number of such people increases," he said.



Residents protest water problem
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Residents of the Central Government Employees Colony at Sector 7 here protested against the municipal corporation (MC) authorities here today for not supplying adequate water in the area.

Women holding empty buckets in their hands raised slogans against the MC and CPWD authorities, who were responsible for maintaining water distribution lines in the colony.

Colony president NK Jhingan said there was no improvement despite repeated requests to the authorities. He requested MC officials to visit the colony to assess the situation.

Tarsem Pal said the pressure was so low that the water did not reach the tap beside the one near the water supply meter chamber on the ground floor.

Neena Chaudhary said her children had to go to public toilets to ease themselves as the overhead tanks on the second floor were dry for the last two months.

Surya Mani Bhatt said they lived on the first floor and had to trouble those on the ground floor to fetch water as he had a fractured arm earlier.

Residents decided to demonstrate in front of the Municipal Commissioner and the Mayor, who was the area councillor, on Tuesday morning if there was no improvement.



Scheduled power cuts are back in Mohali
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Factory workers while away their time without power at Phase I in Industrial Area, Panchkula, on Saturday.
Factory workers while away their time without power at Phase I in Industrial Area, Panchkula, on Saturday. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal

Mohali, June 23
Scheduled power cuts are back in the town. From now on, power will remain suspended from 9 am to 10 am and from 1 pm to 2 pm in the town while its peripheral villages will witness a three-hour cut in two shifts everyday. In Industrial Area, there will be a 48-hour power cut from 8 am on Saturday every week.

"Today's power schedule mentions the timings of "scheduled and unscheduled power cuts" for the first time," said an official of the Punjab State Electricity Board. Residents here are also reeling under unscheduled power cuts.

The situation is worst in villages, where miffed residents claim that they are being deprived of power for at least eight to 10 hours.

"Tall claims of the Punjab government have fallen flat. Politicians should come to villages and see how we are spending our days and nights without power in the sweltering heat," said Gurdyal Singh, a resident of Mataur village near Phase VII, here.

While Rajesh Ahuja of Phase IIIB2 claimed that the power had been playing hide and seek with the residents for over five hours everyday.

"The announcement of scheduled power cuts is not going to make a difference as we have already been facing power cuts ranging from four to five hours everyday. The power has been tripping after every half-an-hour for the past few days," said Ahuja.

Adding insult to an injury, the power cuts also affect the water supply in the town. The complaints of low water pressure are rampant in several areas of the town while in many certain pockets, people are not getting water supply even for an hour in a day.

An official of the public health department claimed that the erratic power supply affected the water supply.


Tricity scan

Chandigarh scan

Poster-making competition

Act enact: Artists stage a play ‘Tamasha-e-Hindustan’ at Plaza, Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Saturday.
Act enact:
Artists stage a play ‘Tamasha-e-Hindustan’ at Plaza, Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Saturday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Indian Council for Child Welfare is organising a poster-making competition as a part of a three-day awareness programme on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Bal Bhawan, Sector 23, from June 24. Children till the age of 16 years would participate in the competition. On the first day, a poster making competition would be held at Snehalaya, Maloya, and Juvenile Home, Sector 25. The winners would participate in the final competition on June 25 at Bal Bhawan.


Prof AD Ahluwalia (former chairman, geology department, Panjab University, and in charge, Environment Awareness Programme, PU) has been made a member of the National Programme Advisory and Monitoring Committee of the National Programme on Carbon Sequestration Research, as per a communication of the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi. Carbon sequestration is the capture of carbon dioxide and refers specifically to the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reservoir.

Women self-help group formed

Twenty-eight women of Dhanas joined the self-help group Rotary Community Corps, sponsored by Rotary Club of Chandigarh, on Saturday. It is second such group formed by the club after the one running in Colony No 5, the president of the club, Neena Singh, said. It is perhaps the first all-ladies RCC in the world, the president said. The group has a diverse membership with an 80-year old woman, who recently learnt to write her own name, and another member as young as 18-year old. All these women were earlier, a part of the ‘Roshni’ centre being run by the club to provide adult education. Now, these women would also be provided vocational skills in tailoring for which the club had gifted three sewing machines, Neena Singh said.

Annual meeting of traders

In the annual general meeting of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal at Sector 35, the city traders opposed the increase in the property tax. President Charanjiv Singh said the traders would launch a massive agitation if current building byelaws were not amended or if property tax was increased. 300 members of the organisation, who are office bearers of various market associations, attended the meting.

Additional charge given

During the 40-day leave period of Tanvi Garg, IAS, the charge of SDM (E) and Director IT has been assigned to Vinod P Kavle, IAS, SDM (S). The charge of Director Tourism has been assigned to Varsha Khangwal, HCS.

Shopkeepers inconvenienced

Shopkeepers at Mani Majra are facing problems in commuting to their shops as the municipal corporation has dug up the footpath on the rear of their shops here. They say the authorities have dug up the path to beautify the area since a fortnight, but the work has not been completed.

Seminar on FDI in retail

The Chandigarh Press Club will organise a seminar on 'FDI in retail- impact on Indian economy' here on Sunday evening. Agro-economist Davinder Sharma will address the gathering and share his views.

Mohali scan

Children Workshop ends

A colourful cultural show marked the conclusion of the 25-day long summer workshop ‘Discover Yourself Children’ at Pracheen Kala Kendra’s indoor audiotorium in Mohali on Saturday. The workshop was conducted by Parveen Jaggi, of SPKK theatre group, and used theatrical methods to develop the personality of the participating children.

Education board gets new chairman

Mr Hussan Lal, secretary of Punjab’s school education department, took over as the Chairman, Punjab School Education Board, on Saturday. Addressing the officers and employees of the board, he asked them to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability in their working. The chairman directed all the departments of the board to prepare annual planning calendar of their respective sections. This would help them in providing information to the public under RTI, he said. He said that making working of the board modern and responsive shall be his first priority.

Panchkula scan

Taste of Lebanon

With the opening of Lebanese Express at the City Centre in Sector 5, the residents of the tricity would now be able to relish the mouthwatering Lebanese cuisines of the Mediterranean region.

— Tribune Reporters



Why should people pay more for less?
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 23
With the district reeling under power cuts for the past two weeks, the Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) has questioned the UHBVN why the people of the state should “pay more for less?”

Vishnu Goel, president (Panchkula chapter), Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI), stated that the scheduled and unscheduled power cuts had badly affected the industry in the district.

Goel said, "The power board had announced a six-hour power cut and we had changed the timings of our units, but unscheduled power cuts ranging from half-an-hour to one hour had resulted in an increase in the input costs of our products."

“We can’t afford to run a unit by diesel-driven generators. The increase in input costs will result in relegation in the global market,” Goel said while adding that the industries were struggling for the high interest rates and high competition environment and could face a closure if the situation remained the same. He said they had recently brought the matter to the notice of Chairman-cum-Financial Commissioner Ajit Mohan Saran."

He said they were even ready to declare a weekly off on the Punjab pattern if the board provided uninterrupted power supply during the whole week.

Meanwhile, scheduled and unscheduled rotational power cuts for short durations and that, too, for five to six times a day had made the life of residents miserable. The most-affected areas are Sector s4, 12, 12-A, 14, 10, 11, 9, 8 19 and 21 Phase I and II, Industrial Area.

A senior official of the UHBVN said low voltage was due to overloading and they had already launched a campaign to check the power load of each household. Executive engineer Dalbir S Dhanda was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

Pardeep Sharma, a resident of Sector 11, said refrigerators and fans had stopped functioning due to low voltage.

A senior official of the UHBVN said undeclared load by residents in the city had put pressure on the feeders and forced the board to provide restricted power supply not only to the residents, but also to the industrial units in the town. He said their main focus was to save the main transformer in the feeder and to address the complaints of the consumers in the town.



359 illegal colonies in Mohali
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, June 23
As many as 359 illegal colonies have come up in Mohali district. Fatehgarh district is also not far behind. As many as 118 illegal colonies have come up in Fatehgarh district followed by Roopnagar where there are 84 illegal colonies. Patiala has 32 such colonies. The mushrooming of illegal colonies came to the notice of GMADA when a survey of the areas falling under the development authority was conducted.

GMADA has now decided to initiate police action against developers who were allegedly responsible for the spread of such colonies. The authorities concerned have written to the Senior Superintendent of Police of respective districts to file FIRs against them under Section 36(1) of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act (PAPRA). The action aimed at saving people at large who were getting duped at the hands of such developers.

Laws have been laid for regulating and guiding the infrastructural development in the state. Under the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act (PAPRA), 1995, land measuring 1,000 sqm or above cannot be divided into plots for residential, commercial or industrial purposes, without obtaining a licence under Section 5(1) of the Act and without obtaining registration certificate of the promoter under Section 21(1) of the Act from the Competent Authority.

In addition, under Sections 56(6), 64(2), 79 and 80 of the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act, 1995, no development can be carried out in the planning area or in the area of regional plan or master plan without obtaining prior permission from the competent authority. Further, if any person erects or re-erects any building or develops a colony against the provisions of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act (PAPRA), he is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a period of three years and fine up to Rs 10,000. Also in case of violations of the provisions of the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act, 1995, the authority reserves the rights to demolish such colony or construction.



Mohali MC gears up to deal with monsoon
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Sanitation workers at work in Mohali.
Sanitation workers at work in Mohali. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, June 23
With the monsoon about to set in, the Mohali administration has begun its preparations to cope with waterlogging and other problems. A special cleanliness drive has been initiated in the town under which all curve channels, road berms, water drains and sewerage systems are being cleaned up by the local municipal corporation and public health department. Besides, the municipal corporation has put in extra manpower of about 100 officials to deal with the wild growth in the town.

Today, the MC Joint Commissioner, JC Sabharwal, who himself was supervising the special cleanliness drive, claimed that the entire town would be cleaned up in a few days.

“We have chalked out a special schedule of over two weeks and the entire town along with the villages, which fall within the MC limits will be cleaned up during the drive so that no garbage goes in drains with the rainwater," said Sabharwal.

Apart from this, fogging, pesticides and other such measures are also being taken simultaneously to avoid the outbreak of any water-borne diseases, he added.

Mohali Deputy Commissioner Varun Roojam said all officials concerned had been issued instructions during a meeting on the issue a week ago.

“The administration is ready to deal with the monsoon," said Roojam while adding that the residents should not throw garbage in the open to make the drive more effective.

The special drive will culminate on July 12.



Illegal structures videographed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
After passing demolition orders against 300 illegal structures at Khuda Ali Sher and Kaimbwala that fall in the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake, the Land Acquisition Collector (LAC) of the Chandigarh Administration has videographed illegal structures.

The exercise is a prerequisite to carrying out a demolition drive. Apart from falling in the catchment area, the structures violate provisions of the Periphery Control Act.

Though the Supreme Court has stayed the demolition of the structures, that have come up in the catchment area of the lake, the UT has already served notices on violators.

The major violation is at the Madho Colony in Khuda Ali Sher. The department had tried to demolish the structures earlier, but could not do so as residents protested.

Through a public notice, people were made aware of the violations. So far, the LAC had issued over 1,000 demolition notices under the Periphery Control Act.

None of those could be carried out due to the non-availability of a police posse. The UT had acquired land covered by three farmhouses at Khuda Ali Sher.

Officials with the LAC said the videography would help them ascertain the progress of illegal structures since they were served notices.

“Though we have been warning residents not to raise construction, violators have been trying their best. Structures will not be allowed,” they said.



Policeman on duty at ‘naka’ has narrow escape
Signals person driving vehicle recklessly to stop, but driver hits barricade and misses him
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
A Chandigarh Police ASI on duty at a 'naka' set up to check drunk driving here had a narrow escape when a person driving a vehicle recklessly missed hitting him and sped away last night. The 'naka' was laid by the traffic police near the road separating Sectors 33 and 34. The person driving a speeding car almost hit ASI Manjit Singh.

Inspector Jaswinder Singh, who was the 'naka' in charge, said the incident occurred around 11:50 pm, when the ASI signalled the driver to stop the vehicle for checking.

“On seeing a person driving the vehicle rashly approach the 'naka', the ASI signalled the driver to stop the car by flashing the torch, but the driver, in a bid to escape the 'naka', hit the barricade where the ASI was standing,” the inspector added.

He further said the ASI jumped backwards, which saved him from being hit. The police said the driver, after hitting the barricade, managed to drive away, without giving the police time to react.

“It was suspected that the driver was drunk. That was why he did not stop the vehicle and sped away from the spot,” the inspector said.

The police managed to note down the registration number of the vehicle. A case under Sections 279 and 353 of the IPC was registered at the Sector-34 police station.

Fourth incident in less than three months

  • On May 9, an ASI posted at a police control room sustained injures when he was hit by a person driving a jeep at a barrier near the transport area traffic lights

  • On May 7, a constable was hit by a person driving a sports utility vehicle at a 'naka' to check the use of black film on vehicles at the traffic lights on the road separating Sectors 24 and 25

  • On April 22, constable Bhim Singh, attached with the security of UT SSP Naunihal Singh, had a miraculous escape when four youths almost ran a BMW car over him on the road separating Sectors 10 and 16



PU gets tough ON help desks
Measures taken to restrict incidents of violence during admissions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Panjab University, for the first time, has taken an undertaking from the student leaders as per which any incident of violence would lead to cancellation of the help desks of the parties involved in the violence.

Every year, the student organisations in the university set up the help desks to assist the students coming for admissions to the campus. This annual exercise also gives an opportunity to these organisations to garner support for the student elections later in the year.

In a meeting held today under the chairmanship of the Dean Student Welfare, AS Ahluwalia, and attended by the leaders of all the student organisations, the places to set-up the help desks near the administrative block from June 25 were assigned to all the parties.

It was decided, however, that the student leaders would give an undertaking as per which any act of violence would lead to the cancellation of the help desks of the involved parties.

PU authorities also decided to restrict the student organisations from showing their muscle power at the help desks by restricting the number of students allowed to sit at the desk.

“The parties would have to give the names of twenty workers before setting the help desk, and only those members would be allowed to sit at the desks,” DSW said.

The movement of party workers on the campus with the stickers and badges of their parties would also be restricted by the university.

“The party workers can assist the students at the desk by providing only the information related to admissions,” DSW said.

To avoid any untoward incident, security near the help desks would also be beefed-up by the university.

At the meeting, it was also decided that later, a help desk would also be set up by the university to assist the students.

From Tuesday, PU’s help desk would be set with the wardens from both the boys’ and the girls’ hostels to provide assistance to the students coming for admissions.



Fellows urge varsity VC to fill posts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
A deputation of fellows has urged the Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University to convince the Punjab government to fill the teaching posts that have been lying vacant for last several years.

Fellows including Mukesh Arora, IS Sandhu, RPS Josh and PS Gill recently met the Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti and appealed to him to convince the state government to make appointments to the vacant posts.

Dr PS Gill said he had requested the VC to ensure that all the posts lying vacant must be filled properly and that the teachers so appointed be paid all their dues as per UGC norms.

“He was apprised of the pathetic state the colleges are in because of the blanket ban on the appointments to grant-in-aid posts,” Gill said.

Only about a thousand teachers were working despite more than 3,500 aided posts, Dr. Josh said.

The periodic inspection of degree colleges has also not been conducted for many years, IS Sandhu said.

Mukesh Arora said the situation in the government colleges was pitiable and a large number of student-financed courses were being taught by guest faculty and grossly underpaid contractual teachers.

“Denial of UGC scales is a rule rather than an exception. More than 1,000 teaching posts are lying vacant in the state-run colleges. Some of the rural government colleges are run entirely by unqualified staff,” Arora said.

Gill added that the teachers in the self-financed courses were worst sufferers as they were underpaid; relieved in the month of March to allow a break in service which disqualified them from promotion; and had pitiable service conditions.



PU to train career counsellors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
A five-day training workshop 'Appraisal to Aspirations' is being organised by the Department of Education, Panjab University, from June 25. The workshop aims to make the participants capable of conducting assessment and appraisal tests for providing informed guidance and counselling to students.

Professor Raj Gupta, chairperson of the education department, said that these days students find it difficult to decide the right career path due to tough competition and various alternatives available to them.

“Informed career decisions not only help the individual but all the people related to them and the society at large,” an official said.

This workshop would train the counsellors to assess or appraise an individual, prepare career profiles, and provide counselling so that the clients might aspire fot the most-suited career paths.



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